Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI) has commissioned a shea nut processing factory at Takoradi in the West Mamprusi Municipality.
The constructed facility is part of the Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP). The facility aims to boost the efforts of women groups in the community to increase production and add value to shea nuts.
Commissioning the factory, Dr Kwaku Afriyie said the facility would help empower women in the area to increase the shea business chain as their main economic venture. He noted that women empowerment is key to accelerating the achievement of inclusive national development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He, therefore, encouraged the women to make maximum use of the facility to increase income and improve their livelihoods.
Moreover, he said the facility would encourage community members to desist from destroying the shea trees for charcoal. This would contribute to preserving the forest and prevent degradation of the environment, he added. He pointed out that the main goal of the SLWMP is to restore and preserve the environment and ecosystem. Thus, enabling the rural community to harness the potentials of the forest reserves to reduce poverty.
On his part, Mr Sulemana Alhassan, the West Mamprusi Municipal Director of the Department of Agriculture, highlighted some benefits of the SLWMP. He said the SLWMP had empowered about 5,000 farmers in about 20 communities in agroforestry and other economic ventures. He revealed that farmers received support to plant tree crops such as Teak, Mahogany, Baobab, Cashew and Mangoes. The farmers also received improved seeds of food crops such as maize, soyabeans and cowpea, he disclosed.
Mr Arimeyaw Basintale, the Municipal Chief Executive also applauded SLWMP for empowering the community towards poverty reduction.
Other facilities commissioned
The MESTI Minister also commissioned a gari processing facility to add value to high cassava yields. He also commissioned a dugout to meet the water needs of large numbers of cattle and livestock. In addition, he commissioned a crop drying platform to improve quality of harvested farm products. These interventions are situated within communities of the West Gonja Municipality and Daffiema Bussei Issa District of Upper West Region.
Commissioning the facilities Dr Kwaku Afriyie said his ministry will make use of small technologies and innovations to improve the life of farmers.
“The small, small things that will make the life of farmers comfortable is what we are interested in” he said.
Furthermore, the Minister said the project would contribute to environmental sustainability. He highlighted the need to scale up the project to other communities to enable more women to benefit. On farm destruction by cattle, he appealed to the Regional Minister to liaise with Traditional Authorities to address the menace.
Mr Nadi Sanda, (DCE) for Daffiama-Bussie-Issa District noted that the gari processing facility would promote agribusiness development and alternative livelihood for the community. He also said the drying platform would help reduce post-harvest losses due to moisture content and as well protect animal destruction of processed produce after harvest.